The other day I was driving a 2007 Ford Transit minibus (diesel) at about 25-30mph, when I accidentally changed into 6th gear instead of 4th (or it might have been 5th instead of 3rd). This stalled the engine. I immediately depressed the clutch again, (braking slightly through instinct) and turned the key, managing to restart before the power steering went or anything like that, and before I had slowed to anything less than about 15mph.

My question is, could I have just changed into the correct gear and turned the key to instantly restart it, without having to depress the clutch and use the starter motor?

  • Changing into the adapted gear and clutching in is precisely how you push-start a car with a flat battery. Dec 8, 2020 at 10:28

2 Answers 2


The van was likely not fully stalled, just shuddering at very low revs in 6th gear, as 6th gear will have been too high for your road speed. The van likely only stalled when you depressed the clutch, as the engine would still be rotating if you were still moving & the van was in a gear.

Unless the van is fitted with some sort of reset mechanism/switch.. There was no need to switch off the ignition really. Because as long as you were moving above say about 6mph, you could have just selected the correct gear and released the clutch whilst giving a little throttle. This would have spun the engine back into life again via the transmission.

  • I see. But a stall would be unavoidable as you'd have to press the clutch to change to the correct gear anyway
    – binaryfunt
    Jan 24, 2017 at 1:14
  • Nooo... You just rev the engine AS you dip the clutch, just like a rev matching downshift. This would avoid the stall. It is not easy to do if you're not used to it though, although its quite easily learned. I learned very young as I raced motorbikes and changing down on a motorcycle is far nicer (and smoother) if you can rev-match properly. Otherwise the rear wheel has a tendency to hop all over the place affecting stability.
    – Orb
    Jan 24, 2017 at 4:18

If the car is moving, you won't be able to engage any gear without clutching it. Or perhaps you could engage those over 2nd, depending in your gearbox. Nevertheless, you could clutch it, engage a correct gear depending on the moving speed, and release the clutch not too fast, to avoid any bumping reaction. When the car stalls in a situation like you described, there is no need to turn off the key: just clutch, shift as appropriated, and release clutch.

Sometimes, when I'm too low on gas, I use to get into some good speed, then turn off the key, shift to neutral (or engaged if doing down a hill) and let the car move by itself...when the speed gets slower, then I would turn the key without starter, clutch->engage->release to resurrect the thing :) In fact, I wouldn't use the starter at all, if I'm down a hill...just let it run down a bit and crank it by itself, in a same procedure. It is a routine of mine, don't know if good or bad, just got very used to it since once I got a bad starter for weeks.

EDIT: This procedure is not good for those cars provided with power steering, since it could make it too hard to maneuver.

  • Depending on how old your car is, deliberately turning off the engine while driving is a bad idea because you'll lose power steering, making it much harder to control
    – binaryfunt
    Jan 23, 2017 at 22:48
  • Yes, I should add that to my question: the procedure is not good for those cars with power steering. Jan 24, 2017 at 3:54
  • Not only do you lose power assistance (for both steering and braking), but it's also very possible that the steering lock engages when you turn off the ignition. Now you've got a 1-2 ton vehicle moving at some significant speed, in traffic, with reduced ability to brake and reduced or eliminated ability to steer. Sounds like a really, really, really bad idea to me, both for yourself as well as for those around you!
    – user
    Jan 24, 2017 at 13:05
  • As said, bad if the car has power steering. In my case, non of my cars has it (Lada 1500, Argentine Dodge '74, Skoda Estelle '72). Jan 24, 2017 at 16:40
  • That is why in the old days before power steering you could only drive in a straight line. Dec 8, 2020 at 15:53

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